What to Do about Your Stinky WOD Clothes

Written by:

Damect Dominguez

Last updated:

We sweat in CrossFit. This is an absolute, universal fact. Bonds are forged in the
magical moisture that covers our bodies, equipment and the floor, letting all around
you know that you were here. That you were doing work. Some people (such as
myself) transpire so profusely that their shirt turns into a weight vest because of all
the added moisture, and the only solution is to tear it from their bodies and leave it
in a heap on the floor. Just another sign that you’re working hard, in my opinion. But
it’s not all sunshine and roses when it comes to sweat in CrossFit. Sometimes the
combination of sweat, chalk and blood forms a delightful paste all over your WOD
attire which makes it seem like you just finished partying with Charlie Sheen. On top
of that, there’s the smell. A lingering, funky smell that seems to work its way into the
very fabric of your clothing, and despite your repeated attempts at doing laundry it
never seems to kill the odor. As soon as you start to perspire once more, the smell
annoyingly returns to mockingly remind you that you haven’t gotten rid of it. Why is

Essentially, what goes on is that the fibers aren’t fully penetrated by the wash water,
which happens for a few reasons. First, the design of fabrics like Spandex and Lycra
means that they repel water, which is great when you’re working up a massive
sweat and your clothes aren’t waterlogged from it, but it’s obviously less great when
waterlogged (and detergent-logged) is what you’re after. Furthermore, the build up
of body oil, detergent and/or fabric softener contributes to the inability of water to
penetrate the fibers.

So, what can you do to make sure your battle gear is 100% fresh 100% of the time?


The first thing you should do when you return home from your workout (aside from throwing your clothes in the wash, but the whole point of this article is to provide alternative tips as that’s obviously not working) is to hang your clothes up to dry. Do NOT leave them in your gym bag or hamper. Why? Because sweaty, damp gym clothes that don’t get washed can start to breed mold and mildew spores that can be trapped in the fabric. And once that kind of fungi is in there, it won’t come out—even after washing.


Don’t use fabric softener when washing clothes that are made of synthetic materials. The softener will create a coating on the material that makes it impossible for the clothes to get fully cleaned. In addition, try to use less detergent to prevent the same kind of build up from causing your clothes to stink. In fact, you can even run them through a wash cycle with no detergent at all to help rinse away lingering excess detergent or fabric softener.

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Soak your gear in a solution that’s one part vinegar to four parts water for 30 minutes to disinfect and loosen stains before putting clothes in the washing machine. But be careful not to mix vinegar with bleach! You can also try adding vinegar, baking soda or even lemon juice to the washer water. But don’t worry, the vinegar won’t interfere with the soap as it’s run through the wash separate of the detergent.


Some clothes aren’t meant to go into the dryer, which means it’s time to use the power of nature’s dryer—the sun. The sun’s rays are a natural bacteria deterrent, so if you’re fortunate enough to live in a place where you get a good amount of sunshine, hang your clothes outside and revel in the freshening power that the sun provides.


If all else fails, it may be time to say screw it and stock up on some new CrossFit
attire. I assume it doesn’t take much to tempt you to do a little shopping, so if you’ve
tried everything and you still can’t get rid of the stink, donate your clothes to charity
and bust open your wallet.

Photo courtesy of Runar Eilertsen/CC BY-NC-ND 2.0


About Damect Dominguez

Co-founder of BoxLife Magazine. Author: Training Day: 400+ Workouts to Incorporate in Your Training.

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